2021 has been a record year for crime; twelve major cities, including Chicago, have seen homicides in particular reach numbers they haven’t seen in decades. Just over a year ago, Chicago’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, was among several local leaders across the United States pressing for police reform. In 2020, Lightfoot proposed cutting $80 million from the Chicago Police Department. She’s also recently been at odds with members of the Chicago Police Union over her vaccine mandates.
Now, however, with crime reaching such astronomical numbers, Lightfoot has reached out to the federal government for help in combating crime in Chicago.
On Monday, the Chicago mayor requested that United States Attorney General Merrick Garland send federal agents from the ATF (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) to the Windy City for a minimum of six months. According to Fox32 Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot requested these agents to assist local law enforcement in both the investigation of gun-related crimes and gun seizures.
Mayor Lightfoot also requested that Garland send a number of federal prosecutors who would be tasked with the handling the criminal cases amassed as a result of the federal agents’ arrests. Finally, Lightfoot asked that federal marshals assist the local police with issuing and executing warrants – a number she says reaches into the thousands.
Lightfoot said these resources are needed “well in advance of summer.”
This news comes as reports show that many crimes in Chicago are being committed by those who are currently out on bond for a prior arrest. Earlier this year, at least ninety individuals who were arrested for murder were released with an ankle monitor.
As of December 19, the number of shooting victims in the Windy City reached 4,270. In 2020, the number was 3,930. In 2020, there were 749 homicides in Chicago. As of this writing in 2021, that number is 783.
Mayor Lightfoot told the Chicago Tribune, “Keeping you safe is my priority . . .the first and primary priority. I wake up every morning with this as my first concern . . . because we cannot continue to endure the level of violence that we are now experiencing.”
However, Lightfoot’s request is nothing new for the Chicago area. Federal law enforcement resources have been involved in criminal investigations in the Windy City.
As a part of Operation Legend, former President Donald Trump sent 100 federal agents to Chicago. In September 2020, former Attorney General William Barr said that, as a result of the fed’s presence in the Windy City, homicides were down by fifty percent.
However, Lightfoot claimed that the presence of the agents in Chicago had little to no effect; she told the Chicago Tribune then that while she was “grateful for the additional federal” presence, she believed that crime had begun to decrease before those agents ever arrived.
Lightfoot has a history of battling with law enforcement. Lightfoot has made comments disparaging the Chicago Police Department in regards to how they handle encounters; at one point, she proposed “licensing” police officers, and, most recently, Lightfoot and the local union of police officers are at odds over a vaccine mandate. Police officers even turned their backs at an event where Lightfoot was present.
At this time, Garland has not made public his intentions on fulfilling Lightfoot’s request.